IT was no surprise to me to see Neil Lennon coming out and defending his record as Celtic manager yesterday on the back of the defeat to Rangers. I also think the constant regurgitating of candidates for the job will have been eating at him too.

What has really surprised me though is that a lot of fans have not been as enthused about Neil becoming Celtic manager again as I expected them to be. A lot of people seem to have forgotten what he has done at the club.

I still think he has a possibility of getting the job, and should he win the Treble, it will be a hard one for him to take if he doesn’t get it.

There is a consensus though, and not just among the young fans, that a lot of fans aren’t as enamoured with the idea of Celtic appointing Neil as I would have imagined, and I think he merits.

I don’t know if they are looking for a sexier name, or a more high-profile name. That seems to be the driving reason behind this apathy around Neil. It has led to some fans picking apart performances and blowing things up because of that. Also, because the announcement hasn’t been made by now, it has given credence to the notion that Neil is not in a good position to get the job.

Some people had made up their minds that they 100 percent didn’t want Neil as the permanent manager before he had even got going, and that is a bit unfair on him. Every day, he will see the names that are being put forward for a job that he is more than capable of doing.

If I was pressed on whether I think he will get it or not, I’m now really not so sure. Names like Rafa Benitez get the fans excited, but would they do any better of a job at Celtic than Neil? If he gets it, I think Neil could do as good a job as anyone who has been linked with the post. A big name is no guarantee of success, by the way.

Neil knows what it takes to be Celtic manager, he certainly knows what it takes to win leagues and cups at the club, so I had thought that almost 100 percent of fans would be behind him. But that has proven not to be the case.

There will be some who will look at the game against Rangers as an indicator as to whether Neil should get the job or not. But Neil has won most of the games that have mattered. I’m not saying the Rangers game didn’t matter, because that will always be a big game no matter if the league is already won or not.

What happened on Sunday is that the team didn’t perform. Rangers played well and deserved their victory, but Celtic probably only had two players who mustered pass marks in Jonny Hayes and Scott Brown.

Celtic had few successes, and Rangers didn’t have a failing. That underperformance has become a stick for those already less than enthusiastic about Neil becoming the manager to beat him with.

Regardless of who gets appointed, there has to be an influx of players coming in and some going out, and that is a huge job. That has to have started already.

If Neil is getting involved in the summer recruitment behind the scenes, perhaps that will strengthen his hand for the job too. Neil has to be involved in those discussions somewhere along the line.

It is vital that Celtic meet the challenge that will come from Rangers with a change of personnel. If Neil is involved in that rebuilding job, as we believe him to be, then perhaps he is in a stronger position than many people think.